Seabird bycatch mitigation measures

Seabird mortalities are one of the major challenges associated with long lining. A number of measures can be implemented to reduce seabird attraction and subsequent entanglements or capture during fishing activity. These include: 

  • Batching offal – Offal is held on-board and periodically discarded when there is less danger from the fishing activity. It can also be minced before it is discarded, making it less attractive to some birds. Offal management in the bottom long-line sector is mandatory under fisheries regulations. 1915
  • Tori lines – A set of streamers are hung off a line located above the fishing lines or nets. This is designed to scare seabirds away from baited hooks or dangerous cables
  • Blue-dyed bait – Research has shown that birds are less interested in blue dyed bait
  • Weighted lines – This helps the bait to sink fast meaning the birds have less time to get tangled up in the hooks or lines
  • Night setting – There are usually less feeding birds around at night. However, there are exceptions, such as black petrels feeding on bioluminescent squid during darkness hours
  • Bird baffler – Booms are attached to the back of a vessel on either side and swing plastic tubes or cones that are tied onto the booms, essentially scaring the birds away
  • Move to another fishing spot – Some commercial skippers have found it is best to stop setting lines and to move to another spot, especially if the birds are hungry and/or at risk species

The development of vessel-specific seabird risk managements plans can help fishers to consider the overall risk to seabirds of the vessel’s operation and to identify the most effective ways of mitigating the risks.

There are some mandatory government measures in place requiring the use of certain seabird mitigation technologies. For example, since 2006 regulations have been in force requiring fishing boats over 28 metres in length to carry and deploy a seabird scaring device if using a trawl net, but currently no regulations apply to smaller inshore trawlers. 1916

A unique conservation partnership called Southern Seabird Solutions is an example of some of the collaborative innovative work underway between a wide range of stakeholders to reduce the impact on seabirds from commercial long-lining. This example is discussed in the case studies below.

  1. Ministry for Primary Industries, 2013a

  2. Seabird Scaring Devices – Circular Issued Under Authority of the Fisheries (Commercial Fishing) Amendment Regulations 2006 (No. F361) 

Last updated at 1:38PM on February 25, 2015